OAKHURST – This month marks the two-year anniversary of Scuderia Black Forest auto repair business, a one-man shop run by trusted mechanic John Wessels.
He first opened the doors in Oakhurst on Apr. 15, 2011, and has been hard at work ever since.
The Mariposa resident explains why he calls his business “Scuderia Black Forest.”“Scuderia is Italian for ‘stables,'” says Wessels, “and I work on Ferraris, which are Italian cars. In Italy they don’t have a word specifically for the phrase ‘auto repair’ and since they took their carriages to stables to be repaired, that carried over when the horseless carriages – cars – arrived.”
The rest of his company name refers to a wooded mountain range in southwestern Germany.
“I also work on German cars, which is the Black Forest part of it,” explains Wessels. “So I named it Scuderia Black Forest to pick up on the Italian and German name, and reference to living in the mountains.”
The married father of three girls moved to the area in 2005 when his aging parents George and Elsie Wessels began to need more help with their property in Mariposa.
Wessels had been laid off from a Ferrari repair shop and needed to find suitable employment. Luckily, he still had all his own shop equipment.
“I have been working on cars since my early teens,” says Wessels, a second-generation mechanic. “My dad had a Volkswagon repair shop, so I’ve been around and had exposure to German cars from a very early age. I had my own VW rebuilt and restored when I was 14 ½.”
Scuderia Black Forest also does oil changes, “check engine” light diagnostics, electrical repair, clutch jobs and major engine work like rebuilding transmissions.
“Cars are completely complex,” says Wessels, who advises caution when choosing someone to work on your car. He emphasizes that, unlike the requirement for building contractors, in the state of California there is no minimum requirement for a business owner to open up an auto repair business.
Wessels says one of the main problems he sees, mechanically speaking, is an abundance of unneeded repair expenses due to a lack of timely maintenance, along with insufficient knowledge on the part of owners, mechanics, or both.
According to Wessels, any car built after about 1980 is going to have computer and electronics involved.
“When you get into the late 80s to early 90s, cars become much more sophisticated. From 1996 on, they’re extremely complex. You’ve got computers talking to other computers, and with the way everything operates and interacts together, you have to know a completely different computer language.”
He says that diagnosing problems can be difficult with the sensitivity of the electronics and computers involved.
“It can be really tough to pin down certain types of problems because they don’t jump out at you. So sometimes you have to study things for quite a while to see what is subtly not working, causing other things to not work at all.”
With his oldest daughter Elizabeth now in the Navy, and siblings Isabel and Victoria at home, Wessels and his wife Glori, a full-time nurse in Ahwahnee, are glad he took a chance and started up Scuderia Black Forest two years ago.
“It’s actually been working out a lot better than I thought it would, being that it’s a rural area with not a lot of population, and the kind of cars I take in it reduces the potential, so I have to rely on repeat business. That’s the only way you can survive up here.”
What are the main things Wessels notices about mountain customers, compared to those he had when living in the bay area?
“They’re extremely friendly, always complimentary, and very encouraging about me opening up here. I’ve noticed that people, instead of calling up and asking questions, they show up in person and talk for half an hour to get to know me. Then, once I work on the car, they stop by to make an appointment in person.”
Scuderia is located on the lower level of the Silver Creek Center, behind the Oakhurst Fruit and Nut Company, at 40879 Hwy. 41, Ste. #2F, in Oakhurst.
If you have a European or Japanese car and you’re looking for a new mechanic, stop by and see John. Wish him a happy anniversary! And check out his website at http://www.scuderiablackforest.com